SWITZERLAND: Migros hits back at pressure to join Accord
Swiss retailer Migros has told just-style that signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is "not an option," despite ongoing pressure from global trade unions.
More than 130 mainly European companies have so far joined the Accord, a legally binding document aimed at making the Bangladeshi garment sector safe and sustainable.
Last month, global unions IndustriAll and Uni for the second time urged Migros and retailer Coop to sign up to the pact.
But in a statement sent to just-style yesterday (3 February), Migros said: "Events in Bangladesh, especially the building collapse at Rana Plaza which caused the deaths of more than 1,000 workers, have affected us a great deal."
Although the Accord is a "good idea," Migros said signing it "is not an option for us".
"It is still unclear how it will actually look on implementation, and how the question of liability will be regulated. Only about 2% of Migros' textile sales relate to Bangladesh, and we have few suppliers there," the retailer added.
"From this starting point it will be more effective for Migros to clarify the situation of its direct business partners as quickly as possible and in a non-bureaucratic way, and where necessary set improvements in place."
The company said it is in the process of clarifying with suppliers certain points of its own Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) - which it co-founded in 2003 and now has over 1000 members.
It also said it has stepped up fire safety training programmes, although it acknowledges the BSCI - "and all relevant social standards" - do not cover building structure.
In Bangladesh, Migros is now in the process of clarifying these points directly with suppliers, with the first specific audits on factory buildings beginning last month.
"As soon as the audit reports are available, we will decide on what further action to take," the statement noted.
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